I AM compelled to write this plea on behalf of my daughter and all Malaysian mothers married to foreigners who had their children overseas, resulting in the children not being granted citizenship.
Let us approach this fundamental right of women as citizens of Malaysia sensibly and equitably. Let us not point fingers at any party but help put right what has unfortunately been left uncorrected all these years.
Firstly, let us agree that the citizenship rights of all our sons and daughters are enshrined in the Federal Constitution along with all the rights and privileges that follow. It then follows that they are also entitled to the same rights and privileges when they’re married to foreigners. This argument is surely logical and factually correct.
For some reason the relevant section of the Constitution was ambiguously worded. If we accept this to be so, let us clarify the content! It was so refreshing to read what High Court judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir said in his recent judgement (following legal action taken by six Malaysian mothers with children born overseas), that the word “father” must be read to include mothers in interpreting the ambiguity of the wording. We salute his insight and clarity of judgement.
I am absolutely certain that there was an unfortunate oversight in the drafting of the relevant clause that has caused much pain, anxiety and uncertainty for many of our dear daughters and their children in dealing with what is surely a basic human right.
I’m sure we all realise that everyone of us owes a debt of gratitude to our mothers for what we are today – it’s all made possible by a mother’s inherent ability to bring the best out of her children from birth till marriage and beyond. So let’s give these daughters of ours that same opportunity irrespective of whom they marry and where their children are born.
There is a second issue that has been raised which I wish to address, namely that of dual citizenship for the children of Malaysian women married to foreigners. Every Malaysian male married to a foreigner must logically carry the same issue of dual citizenship as a Malaysian female, yet they can confer citizenship to their children automatically. So in my humble view the question of dual citizenship is a non issue that doesn’t warrant debate.
As far as I know it is the absolute prerogative of the government to offer citizenship to anyone it chooses, but in exercising this power the same criteria and standards of justice and fairness must be applied equally, fairly and impartially to both our sons and daughters.
I trust I have expressed with all sincerity and seriousness how we as parents and grandparents feel for our daughters and all Malaysian mothers currently experiencing anxiety, injustice and hardship as a result of the legally unjustified denial of citizenship to their children as a result of their marriage to a foreigner.
I humbly appeal to all concerned leaders, politicians, civil servants, the public and, most importantly, the judiciary to help end their unnecessary suffering.